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Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued on Sunday that opponents of a minimum wage hike ought to be thankful progressives are only demanding a raise to $15 an hour, since the actual minimum wage should be $24, in her estimation.
What are the details?
During an interview with MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan, the progressive lawmaker blasted fellow Democratic lawmakers, including West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who have come out against the measure, saying, “any person who thinks that a $15 minimum wage is the ‘crazy socialist agenda’ is living in a dystopian capitalist nightmare.”
“We should not prop that up. We should not continue that. People are sleeping in their cars, they can’t afford baby formula, there are basic goods that people can’t afford” under the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, she continued.
“It is deeply deeply shameful that we are even having this conversation,” she added. “Because when you take the minimum wage from several decades ago and you actually account for inflation and productivity gains to today, it should really be $24 an hour.
“So we need other Democrats to understand how deep of a compromise $15 an hour is,” she said.
Later in the interview, Ocasio-Cortez claimed, “In almost every pocket of this country you cannot afford rent if you are making minimum wage. And in America, if you are working a full-time job, you should be able to afford to live.”
The $24 an hour figure that Ocasio-Cortez mentions comes from a study put out last year by the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research, which determined that had minimum wage remained in step with productivity gains, as it did from 1938 to 1968, it would now be $24 an hour.
However, it should be noted that those parroting the study aren’t telling the whole story. The study uses a relatively small sample size for its basis and projects that onto the future as if there are no other factors involved. Even the study’s author, Dean Baker, later acknowledged that raising the minimum wage to $24 was not a good idea.
Nevertheless, after House Democrats tried, but failed, to cram the minimum wage hike into their $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package, interest in the study resurfaced. And now, lawmakers like Ocasio-Cortez are throwing the figure out there as a negotiating tactic.
Should a $24 an hour federal minimum wage be implemented, it would mean the minimum annual salary for a full-time worker would be nearly $50,000 a year. Which, according to Ocasio-Cortez, would be just enough to avoid abject poverty and still have a little extra spending money.